Please take this opportunity to get introduced to the 2nd prize winners of Bangkok Fashion Hub competition - Jun Hao Ong and Raphael Cheng from Malaysia!

Jun Ong
Born in 1988 and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Jun recently graduated with a Masters in Architecture (2014) from the University of Westminster in London after obtaining his Bachelor in Architecture from the University of Melbourne (2009). He has worked for studios and practices in Beijing, Shanghai & London, most recently in the architectural studio of British designer, Tom Dixon, exposing him to the world of product design, exhibition curation and retail branding. His interests have always lie in the intersection of applied arts and fine arts. Coming from South-East Asia, he hopes to establish his own multidisciplinary studio with a focus on the region in the near future.

Currently based in Kuala Lumpur, Jun is working on a number of small-scale projects. His completed works include a Morrocan spa in Kuala Lumpur of which he spent three weeks in Marrakech for and was recently engaged by a private client to design a collection of contemporary sculptures. He is now currently working on a public installation in collaboration with Philips, commissioned by the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC). He is interested in small to medium-scale architecture, retail design, art installations and lighting design.

Raphael Cheng
Born in 1990 and raised in Hong Kong, Raphael recently graduated with a Bachelors (Hons) in Fashion Management (2014) from the London College of Fashion, University of London. He also attended an art curation course at Central Saint Martins before working as a gallery assistant at Oxford House, a contemporary art centre in East London. He has also worked for Italian fashion brand Miss Sixty in Guangzhou and J-Crew in London.

Raphael is currently working at JOYCE, a top fashion retailer in Hong Kong and hopes to venture into design and branding in the future. As an assistant merchandiser, Raphael works with international fashion brands as consultant to brand management, seasonal buying and retail training. He has always been interested in the cross-pollination of architecture, fashion and the arts. He hopes to be able to collaborate with architecture or design studios in fashion-related projects in the future.

What does architecture mean to you and what is the role of an architect in your society?

We believe architecture can be much more exciting when it cross-pollinates across different fields, bringing not only creative but also non-creative professions together as collaborators instead of just clients-consultants. In today's time and age, design doesn't only belong to the trained and learned, but to anyone with an idea, a backing and lots of perseverance.

J: In South East Asia, there is a challenge to define what new vernacular architecture and design is, stemming from a rich heritage and culture. There isn't much spotlight on the local architecture scene in South East Asia (apart from a few big cities) and there is a tendency for developing cities to adopt generic 'modern' architecture to want to create a spectacle. We are still very young but we love to pursue a gung-ho, risk-taking attitude to bring something albeit raw but fresh and bold to the table. I remember the great Buckminster Fuller once said, "Dare to be naive."

R: Architecture is also a kind of psychological experience with spatial interaction created by architects. The space should be able to fix complex human problems as well as enhancing our life quality in a spiritual dimension.

Why do you participate in architecture vision competitions?

R: We visited Bangkok recently and we were so inspired by the architecture, fashion, culture and design found in the city. We were really drawn by the authenticity of Bangkok's street fashion and as part of the fashion world, I understand how difficult is it gain opportunities and to survive in this industry. Therefore, it is important to create a regional and global platform that becomes a springboard for young fashion designers to come together and nurture their talents. Fashion education can also be very expensive, so can we create a fashion education environment that is friendly to the public?

J: This was shortly after I was exposed to the incredible fashion industry in Europe and fashion became a brand new avenue that I was really interested in as a subject and spatially. And then this competition came about and we knew that we had to join it to at least put on paper some of the many exciting ideas we had on spatializing fashion. It was an interesting synergy - Raphael had a fashion retail background and was able to feed ideas, trends and concepts to me as I draw up a design.

What advice would you give to individuals who struggle to decide whether it would be beneficial for them to participate in architecture vision competitions?

We think architecture competitions like this, even though conceptual, helps create awareness to a specific context or issue at hand, especially in this region. Speculations can help generate unique and competitive ideas that one day may be a stepping stone to a real project. It is a way where ideas can be developed without much financial and planning restrictions and to really push the boundaries.

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